Monday, January 26, 2015

jan 26 | play readings | lucia frangione

Tonight Lucia Frangione's advanced playwriting class will be hosting a night of readings.  Check out her invitation below, and join in for a free night of theatre!


Advanced Playwriting night of readings Monday Jan 26th, 8pm. FREE. At Pacific Theatre

Come for an evening of new play readings from my advanced playwriting students. Looking for a new play for a self production? Interested in taking my class and want to see what can be accomplished? Supportive of new Canadian work? A fan of FREE ENTERTAINMENT? Come. You will be a welcomed and important part of their development process. As a writer, you really don't know what you have until you have an audience.

Writers: John Moerschbacher, Leah T. Hearne from Rosebud Alberta, Laird Salkeld from Calgary, Cheryl Mullen from Surrey and Alyssa Kostello from Vancouver. Instructor: Lucia Frangione.

underneath the lintel | director's notes by paul f. muir

Here are director Paul F. Muir's notes from the 2014 production of UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL in Rosebud Theatre.


There is a profound afterward in the published edition of Glen Berger’s script, where he outlines “three incontrovertible facts:”

  1. The universe contains well over 500,000,000,000 galaxies, with each galaxy containing over 1,000,000,000,000 stars, of which our vast, blazing and life-bestowing sun...is one.
  2. The Earth is 4,600,000,000 years old in which time, from the Pre-Cambrian Era to the Present, a dizzying, terrifying number of inhabitants – amoebas and trilobites, dust mites and Neanderthals – have all struggled to live from one hour to the next.
  3. I will die. I will be dead in sixty years, though it’s entirely conceivable that I’ll be dead before the week is out.

He goes on to say:
Three simple Facts – the immensity of the universe, the incomprehensibly vast history of the Earth, and our inescapable mortality – loom over all of us like three paisley mastodons. When I shine these three Facts upon any moment in my life, suddenly nothing, absolutely nothing, isn’t strange, bewildering, and out of all whooping.
This play is about a great many things. It’s about loss and being lost, it’s about being found, it’s about discovering joy in the midst of struggle, it’s about the core meaning of our very existence, it’s about the compulsion that humanity has to keep moving forward, “Still, we’ll proceed...” it’s about great defiance and great belief, and it’s about taking a huge risk by having the courage to step out from the safety of our “Lintels” and live fully, and in the process help our fellow sojourners along the way.

There is an idea that if in fact God gave us the gift of Free Will then that Free Will must be strong enough to be able to match, and even defy the Will of God. God will do what God will do, but humanity actually has the ability to defy God to the very last. That is a very powerful, generous, and dangerous gift. What’s fascinating to me is that wherever you may be on this spectrum, God is still at the center. We’re either running toward God, or railing against Him. I suspect God is embracing us either way.

When I think about humanity in light of the above Facts I am humbled that we exist, that we live and love, and that God might just go to any lengths – even to the ends of universe – to get our attention.

I hope you enjoy this little adventure.

Friday, January 23, 2015

underneath the lintel | interview with playwright glen berger

Here is an excerpt from an interview between Cristin Kelly of Florida Studio Theatre and UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL playwright Glen Berger. Read the entire thing on their blog here.


Cristin Kelly: Will you tell me a little bit about the history of Underneath the Lintel? How did you start writing it? What was its development history?

Glen Berger: Two things really inspired the writing of it: One was listening to old recordings of klezmer songs, some of them recorded in the 1920s. And most of my plays come out of music, so the more I listened to it, the more I was attracted to this melancholy, spirited, yet minor key sort of mood.
Also, more and more in my writing I’ve been trying to figure out how to encompass a large amount of time, how to get the proper scale of history and the universe. It’s been clearer and clearer to me that we can’t really get an understanding of the state of things until we’ve heard the perspective of how big the universe is, how old the earth is, and how long life has been around. Trying to figure out how to get a lot of human history into the show and those two strands sort of came together in this play. I began to figure it out.

I had a friend who is curating the Yale summer cabaret. He said there was a spot open for me if I had anything written – I didn’t have anything written yet, but I figured I could probably get something together pretty soon. I did it for two performances at the summer cabaret, and then put it back in my drawer. But, a director named Randy White, who I’ve worked with a lot since then, convinced me that I shouldn’t put it back in my drawer. And it’s had about eighty productions since then.

CK: It sounds like your writing takes on musical qualities. I’m interested in that, since you said most of your plays start out from some kind of music. Do you have a musical background? How
does music inform your writing?

GB: I don’t have a musical background, but I’ve always been attracted to the musicality of language. In fact, I’m writing more and more musicals these days, for a lot of reasons. Also, because it’s easier to get the pattern of what you’re going for across in a musical.

I’m writing the Spiderman musical. I’m also writing several others, including one which is actually about the evolution of language, about really a neo-linguist belief that before we could speak, we could sing. There’s a whole ancient communication that hominids employed that had more to do with music than with linguistics. It really had to do with them communicating and bonding on a more emotional level and relying more on cadence and inflection, and music, basically. There’s something about reaching people on a deeper, emotional level when you really dip into music and musical forms.

CK: I’m fascinated to know how you researched Underneath the Lintel. How did you build all the connections between the events in the play? Did you have a journey in mind, or were you unraveling the mystery as you went along?

GB: I think I kept a little list, in the back of my head or on scraps of paper, of various things that interested me or that seemed to fit with this general topic, but I also remember making a lot of things up. When you write a play, you don’t really think, “This might be seen all over the world, and people will actually scrutinize it.” I had to go back later on and make things a little more accurate. It’s a lot easier just to make it up and pretend you’ve done a lot of research. It’s really easy to get lost in research, and it’s a bad habit of mine. It turns out that you really don’t have to know that much detail to write a play because it’s ultimately never very theatrical in the end. It’s much better to come up with something on your own – to make up the footnote. It’s funny, with Undereath the Lintel it came together in a way that none of my other plays seemed to come together so easily. This one didn’t take half as long as some of my other ones take.

CK: That’s interesting to know because it’s such an intricate play.

GB: You never know when that’s going to happen. It’s a little bit like with every play, you have a crossword puzzle that isn’t filled in There’s no telling whether this one’s going to be an easy one or not.

CK: In terms of the production history of Underneath the Lintel, it’s noteworthy that it premiered at SoHo Playhouse in Lower Manhattan just a few days after 9/11. Did that change your experience of this play?

GB: Right after 9/11, there were definitely some playwrights who were questioning some of their plays. They seemed a little lightweight in light of 9/11. Strangely, Underneath the Lintel still seemed to resonate. The theme throughout of “I was here” resonated with the audience in New York. People were putting up fliers of people who were still missing after 9/11, and they wouldn’t take them down. They became more and more testaments to a life that was lived.

In New York we relied on word of mouth a lot to keep the show going. We wound up running 450 times.

Then it became interesting because the play has this librarian bringing his suitcase and traveling all over the world to deliver this lecture. Since then it’s been a self-fulfilling prophecy. He’s been in cities all over the place delivering this thing, including Holland, actually.

CK: One of the things that I love the most about your writing is the way that your characters always, not just survive, but persevere through the obstacles of their lives. I see a lot of hope in your work, and I feel like that’s not very trendy right now in playwriting. Many writers today are more nihilistic. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the use of hope and why it’s so prevalent in your work.

GB: Maybe it will get trendier. It’s turning around a little bit. I think it goes in cycles. In Great Men of Science, another play of mine, one of the characters talks about the concept of “naïve cynicism.” Generally one thinks of the cynic as the one who has seen it all and who has reached a cynical view of the world and the universe. But something in that that, to me, seems naïve. They actually haven’t seen enough to truly know the way of things. Which isn’t to say that the world is just terrific, but I think in the end, the best we can say is that it’s so bewildering. It’s just beyond our ability to grasp. That’s at least cause for awe. And awe, at least, isn’t boring. There’s no need to be filled with boredom and ennui and a lack of interest and engagement. Every seemingly mundane item, or an atom in the world, when you stop to think about it, it can blow your mind by its very existence. The hope comes out of the fact that the universe is a pretty undeniably psychedelic place.

CK: You write for PBS’s children’s television (Berger is currently the Head Writer for PBS’s Fetch). Do you have, as a writer, a different toolbox that you go to, to write for children, or is it the same set of skills or ideas?

GB: It’s definitely the same set of skills. There’s always going to be narrative and character. Kids don’t let you get away with half of what adults will let you get away with in the name of art. So, it’s challenging and rewarding when you get it right. The other thing about working for PBS is that with children’s television is that there’s always an educational objective. Your mandate isn’t just to be funny and engaging, but to be teaching science or social skills at the same time. There’s a different, if not set of tools, at least a different scale of wrench and screwdriver. When you’re working with animation, there are certain things that you can do that would be far too expensive in a play. You can set it anywhere in the world, you can change scenes, and you can have robotic arms come out of the pillow – whatever you need to make it work.

CK: Can you also tell me more about the Spiderman musical that you’re working on?

GB: I think it will be good. (U2’s) Bono and The Edge have come up with some really great, theatrical music. It sounds like U2 and yet it also sounds like nothing they’ve ever done before. It’s been a really rewarding experience for me because Bono and The Edge and Julie Taymor are pretty amazing collaborators. They’re incredibly open, and they’re very tireless in their pursuit of good art. Our meetings will go without a break and will last hours and hours and hours, which is something I’ve been looking for for years – that relentless, hyper-focused struggle of trying to figure out this thing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

christmas campaign | the tally | $40K raised!

We did it!  THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our fundraising goal - we are thrilled to have made it, and before UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL closed!  What a great start to 2015.



100 + 37.80 + 100 + 46.71 + 15 + 20 + 5 + 75 + 300 + 100 + 500 + 50 + 5000 + 25 + 100 + 5 + 99.85 + 500 + 500 + 500 + 10 + 100 + 50 + 100 + 25 + 1000 + 100 + 200 + 200 + 15 + 26.25 + 400 + 42 + 200 + 75 + 30 + 100 + 15 + 50 + 20 + 200 + 50 + 20 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 250 + 25 + 10 + 1000 + 1000 + 60 + 300 + 200 + 15 + 250 + 30 + 1000 + 200 + 20 + 33.75 + 50 + 300 + 200 + 20 + 250 + 23.95 + 100 + 500 + 100 + 1000 + 5000 + 100 + 50 + 100 + 96.10 + 2500 + 115.32 + 25 + 25 + 80 + 200 + 100 + 1000 + 10 + 100 + 200 + 50 + 200 + 5 + 200 + 100 + 150 + 2500 + 50 + 22 + 4,000 + 2000 + 1000 + 500 + 500 + 200 + 100 + 200 = $40,010.93

GOAL EXCEEDED by $10.93!

Contribute to our campaign today by donating online here or by calling our office at 604.731.5483!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

feb 4-7 | this stays in the room | alexa devine, rob salvador, lois dawson

Last year our friends at Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre (co-producers of RE:UNION) produced THIS STAYS IN THE ROOM, featuring PT artists Alexa Devine and Robert Salvador, plus stage managed by long-time PT stage manager Lois Dawson.  They're remounting next month if you missed it last time. 


This Stays in the Room
Feb 4-7 at Waterfront Theatre
Tickets | Info

This Stays In The Room returns to Vancouver following its 2014 Critic’s Choice Innovation Award for a limited engagement that will see both actors and audience on the stage of the Waterfront Theatre.

“This Stays in the Room is simultaneously one of the humblest and most ambitious shows of the season. It is also one of the very best.” Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

The play is a bold exploration of what it requires to face ourselves and others as we grapple with shame, forgiveness, vulnerability and hope. Originally produced in an art gallery, this remount moves it into a traditional theatre space in an entirely non-traditional way. Seated on stage, in the midst of the action, the audience will be enveloped by the true life stories of its cast and creative team. Each scene pushes the public/private boundaries of what is socially acceptable to talk about and reveal to others. The stories ultimately invite us to act as witness to the disquiet of other people' s internal dialogue and struggle, while inevitably demanding us to reflect on our own thoughts and potential uncertainty in the face of morally ambiguous behaviour.

Written by the entire creative team, This Stays in the Room is directed by Mindy Parfitt, and features Alexa Devine, Allan Morgan, Manami Hara and Robert Salvador. Set & lighting design by Andreas Kahre. Video projection design by Cande Andrade. Sound design by Noah Drew. Choreography by Amber Funk Barton. Dramaturgy by Heidi Taylor. Stage management by Lois Dawson.

underneath the lintel | responses


"Nathan Schmidt is fabulous in Underneath the Lintel. As a fussy, obsessive Dutch librarian who pursues the mystery of a 113-years-overdue library book across the globe, Schmidt gets just about everything right. He’s funny, compelling and entertaining while carrying all the tangled thematic weight of this complicated solo show." | Jerry Wasserman, VancouverPlays.com

"The comedy is plentiful. Schmidt has devised a complicated clown. He makes good use of the small Pacific Theatre stage, allowing it to appear to be a small school classroom. Schmidt's Librarian is disorganized, eager to be liked, certain (like many experts are) that his passion must be yours. He is entertaining in his awkwardness and endearing in his enthusiasm. He always seems a little bit confused, a little bit overwhelmed. He's a sedentary man who has embarked on a great adventure. He's outside his comfort zone and is nervous and excited. Librarian's jovial naivete is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character." | Michael Groberman, The Huffington Post

"Schmidt doesn’t miss a beat as the eccentric fellow and he plays every last pause and inflection to great effect. The story is thought-provoking and the mystery touches on many aspects of the human condition. I won’t get into all the various themes but, suffice it to say, this show is a real charmer, sure to delight librarians and non-librarians alike." | Kimberley Davison, Vancouver Vantage

"In a spellbinding performance Schmidt takes us with him on a round the world quest to find the person responsible for the book return, directed by scraps of clues he finds along the way... the Librarian's quirky pleasure as he unravels mystery after mystery, together with his pictorial slide show and recordings keeps the mood light and very funny. Schmidt is masterful at engaging with the audience and though the play runs 85 minutes without intermission he held me rapt in his quest throughout. I loved it." | Gillian Lockitch, Review from the House

"If you’ve ever known a quirky Dutchman, pondered your existence, been in a library pre 1995, enjoyed symbolism, or if you like detective stories, gift yourself an hour and a half. Marvellous stuff!" | Katherine Evans, patron website comment

"Right at the top of Underneath the Lintel, the solo performer shows us the posters he’s made up promising an “Impressive Presentation”. The billing is accurate, but incomplete: the play is also funny, thought-provoking, and moving. ... In following the exuberant piecing together of one extraordinary set of scraps, Underneath the Lintel is a profoundly life-affirming experience." | Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

"Underneath the Lintel is rich with offbeat ideas." | Jo Ledingham

"I have had the pleasure of seeing this play twice. A brilliant piece of work, very multi-layered and thought provoking on so many levels." | Grania Svedic, patron website comment

"Paul Berger’s Underneath the Lintel works on a number of levels, but where this play ultimately succeeds or fails is in the performance of its sole character, the Librarian. In the current production on Pacific Theatre’s stage, Nathan Schmidt is indeed its biggest strength... Actor Nathan Schmidt rises to the challenges of the Librarian, walking a fine line between the meta and the physical, there are moments of pure lucidity that are contrasted by the murkiness of his obsession. A terrific story-teller, director Paul Muir rarely lets Schmidt rest, much like the character he is trying to find." | Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

"Wow! An amazing performance given by Nathan Schmidt.  He must have been exhausted and exhilarated at the finish.  Thank you for being so captivating and energized through the entire time and bringing me to tears at the end. I walked out with the profound notion that “I was here” and that “we are here”…to be reminded of the wonder of it all was humbling.
First time to the theatre…another gem hidden away.  I felt I was in an intimate theatre in New York.
Keep the quality going…tall order.  Again, amazing!" | Rita Eustergerling, patron website comment

Monday, January 19, 2015

underneath the lintel | kilroy was here

A prominent image in UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL is the Kilroy Was Here graffiti.  This graffiti image of a bald head peeking over a wall became popular in WWII, associated with GIs.  Around the world, the character took on various names - "Foo" in Australia, "Chad" in the UK, and more.  The servicemen are reported to have left the graffiti on the walls of places they were stationed to record their movements, and it is rumoured that Hitler believed Kilroy was the codename for one high-level spy.  The graffiti image has carried through time, here are some shots of it around the world.







Friday, January 16, 2015

jan 27-31 | as little children | twu

Be the first to enjoy this commissioned world premiere, written by accomplished TWU alumna M.J. Eden (GODSPELL, REFUGE OF LIES). AS LITTLE CHILDREN lights up the stage with wonder, humour, and imagination.



SAMC Theatre presents: As Little Children
January 27-31

When Aline loses her father, she refuse to believe he's really gone. Then one night, in her sleepy New Brunswick village, Aline sees a vision of a glowing apple tree. As the whispers of the forest propel her into a courageous quest, she encounters a force more powerful than even a child could imagine!

Even though her mother can't bring herself to believe in miracles, Aline steps into a world aglow with innocence and hope. But is Aline's faith strong enough to reunite her with what they've lost?

Playwright Eden lives and works in New York City, and will be coming to Langley for the premiere. She will also host a special Q&A talkback and reception with the audience after the Saturday matinee. “I'm finding that the pain in our lives can also hold joy,” said Eden. “That’s one of the mysteries I explored as I wrote this play. Within each of us there is a quiet place, a place where we can meet with God and with ourselves, and there's peace there—in the midst of any circumstance.”

Directed by Langley’s Kate Muchmore, As Little Children premieres at SAMC Theatre from January 27 – 31. Reserve tickets here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

jan 23-31 | shadowlands | lloyd arnett

Note from Ron: Director Lloyd Arnett also staged SHADOWLANDS in 2005, at Trinity Western - a production that sparked me to schedule the play in our next season.  Dan Amos and Diana Squires starred in the Trinity show, and both have been on the PT stage since; Diana in GODSPELL and the recent IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and Dan in a pile of shows including THIS WONDERFUL LIFE (the one-man show), THE QUARELL (opposite Nathan Schmidt, who opens UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL on Friday), and PT's own production of SHADOWLANDS.  Seems like a good idea is worth having again and again. (Ron Reed)



Gallery 7 presents: Shadowlands
January 23, 24, 29-31

The serene world of C.S. Lewis, Oxford professor, famous author and determined bachelor, is turned inside out when he is visited by the spirited poet, Joy Gresham. What starts as a cordial friendship transforms into an ardent romance. When Joy develops terminal cancer, C.S. Lewis is forced to re-think his stoic philosophy on pain and suffering and experiences love and compassion on an entirely new level. This heart-warming West-End and Broadway hit explores the power of love and how suffering and loss can both challenge and transform a person's character and resolve. 

Reserve tickets today here at Gallery 7's box office.

underneath the lintel | afterword from glen berger

An excerpt from Glen Berger's afterword in the published edition of UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL.


A spot of grocery shopping, a few diapers changed, dinner, a chat on the phone, a shower, a shave, and an arduous mission retrieving a small round dog toy from under the couch – that has been my day today, and all in all, little to write home about, certainly nothing demanding deep consideration, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing strange. That is, if it weren’t for three incontrovertible Facts:

  1. The universe contains well over 500,000,000,000 galaxies, with each galaxy containing over 1,000,000,000,000 stars, which our vast, blazing and life-bestowing sun … is one.
  2. The Earth is 4,600,000,000 years old, in which time, from the Pre-Cambrian Era to the Present, a dizzying, terrifying number of inhabitants – amoebas and trilobites, dust mites and Neanderthals – have all struggled to live from one hour to the next. (Indeed, more living creatures are in my stomach (and yours) at this moment than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.)
  3. I will die. I will be dead in sixty years, though it’s entirely conceivable that I’ll be dead before the week is out.

And suddenly all the props holding up my warm and secure little existence are kicked away and used for kindling. The imagination is taxed to exhaustion and left numb and agape when it even begins to fathom the implications of these Facts. They beggar the most breathless hyperbole. Three simple Facts, three confirmed and undeniable Facts – the immensity of the universe, the incomprehensibly vast history of the Earth, and our inescapable mortality – loom over all of us like three paisley mastadons. When I shine these three Facts upon any moment in my life, suddenly nothing, absolutely nothing, isn’t strange, bewildering, and out of all whooping. These Facts turn every memorable or trivial or utterly forgettable moment of my existence – shopping, eating trout with spouse, lying prostrate retrieving dog toy – uinto the Apothesois of the Comic and Tragic, the Inconsequential and Crucial, the Banal and Profound. These Facts loom so large, in fact, that they are rather easily ignored. Three paisley mastadons get up with us in the morning and sleep with us at night but, for the most part, they’re very quiet pachyderms, and consequently, amazingly, they blur into the unimportant background, even though one day, with trumpeting bellows, they will trample me into oblivion. Time and again I explain to myself that these Facts are interesting, profound even, but not pertinent to my daily life. NO. In truth, everything else is but shadow compared to these Facts. They are the trump cards to all the ordinary cards I hold in my hand and call “my life.”

I write plays to help keep these Three Facts in the front of my head. In other words, I write to try to keep my self engaged with the Bewildering and Infinite. But why did I write Underneath the Lintel in particular?

All my plays are first inspired by music, and Underneath the Lintel was inspired particularly by certain klezmer/Yiddish music from the 1920s (and earlier). The “jaunty melancholy,” the “dancing-despite-it-all” quality it contained, the defiance even – a certain “finding-joy-despite-all-the-evidence-to-the-contrary” quality to the music – compelled me to try to express it as a play.


But my point isn’t that we should all believe in the Wandering Jew, or even God, for that matter. Rather, anything at all—for the Librarian it was an impossibly overdue book—can be an invitation to the miraculous. And also this: That in the face of overhwleming existential bewilderment and terrible suffering, to respond with a little defiant dancing (in all its myriad forms) is a very human and very wondrous thing.